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Thread: Pen Shopping in Japan

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    Default Pen Shopping in Japan

    Sorry if this has been addressed elsewhere (and feel free to point me to older threads if so) but I'm curious about other people's experience buying fountain pens in Japan. It looks like a trip may be in the cards in a year or so (assuming the waning of COVID, fingers crossed for all the reasons), and we're just starting to pick out a few destination cities/regions. For those of you who've been, I'm wondering:

    - Do you have a favorite pen shop?
    - Is there a particular city that's renowned for having more/better pen shops than usual?
    - Aside from the key players (Pilot/Namiki, Platinum/Nakaya, Sailor), what lesser-known Japanese brands would you recommend?
    - Are there specific models you like that are only available in Japan? The Pilot 823 used to be like that, I think, but it seems they're now more readily available in the States?
    - Would, for example, a given Nakaya model be cheaper in Japan than in the States, or are prices roughly the same?

    Many thanks!

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    Default Re: Pen Shopping in Japan

    Japan is very centralized, like France. Even if there are good stationers elsewhere, Tokyo is where you want to be.

    I would suggest:

    Maruzen — Nihonbashi Sets the standard. Lots of nice paper, ink and notebooks too

    Eurobox — Ginza. A good place to go for vintage or makie. The proprietor reportedly speaks very good English.

    Shosaikan —Aoyama. Amazing customer service! Apparently the staff is polyglot, but i didn’t test it.

    Itoya — various locations but Ginza is the main one

    Also, larger/fancier department stores usually have a fountain pen counter. There are sometimes special department store versions of pens if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

    There are also smaller places and vendors of used pens in places like Ueno, but you probably need to speak Japanese.

    I haven’t been over in a while. Some things may have changed. There’s more interest in ink these days, especially over there. I’m mostly about the pens, so i haven’t paid that much attention to the new developments on the ink front.
    Last edited by guyy; August 7th, 2021 at 09:00 PM.

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    Default Re: Pen Shopping in Japan

    Eboya is on my list for my next visit: http://eboya.net/?tid=5&mode=f34

    Scot

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    Default Re: Pen Shopping in Japan

    This is hugely helpful, guyy--thanks so much!

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    Default Re: Pen Shopping in Japan

    Awesome, Scot, thank you!

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    Default Re: Pen Shopping in Japan

    - Do you have a favorite pen shop?
    Not particularly, it depends on what you're looking for. I think a standout for me was Kakimori Ink Studio, but that was because I could mix and try inks. I liked Nagasawa Pen Den as well.

    - Is there a particular city that's renowned for having more/better pen shops than usual?
    In particular, Tokyo has a bunch, but Osaka and the others will have some as well.


    - Aside from the key players (Pilot/Namiki, Platinum/Nakaya, Sailor), what lesser-known Japanese brands would you recommend?

    I would browse and see what you like at the given stores. Most pens write decently, and surprises come along the way. Stylo-art is there as well, but it most likely is a day trip out of your way.

    - Are there specific models you like that are only available in Japan? The Pilot 823 used to be like that, I think, but it seems they're now more readily available in the States?

    Think most exclusives are ink - some of the Kobe stuff is not available in the US right now for example. Some sailor exclusives are Japan only as well.

    - Would, for example, a given Nakaya model be cheaper in Japan than in the States, or are prices roughly the same?

    Nakaya pricing I believe is somewhat fairly consistent outside one or two exclusive dealers. Nibs.com has a pretty equivalent price if I remember correctly, considering for shipping and import taxes. Sailors and Namikis .... depends, but it will generally be cheaper in Japan. Do your calculations however, it depends on the model and the storefront. Dollar has a stronger value than Yen, so that's where some of the pricing comes from ... the rest in markup, import and shipping.

    I also forgot - the sales tax thing. You can only claim a refund on the day of purchase so plan ahead.
    Last edited by sworist; August 10th, 2021 at 07:13 AM.
    -NK

    u/sworist

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    Default Re: Pen Shopping in Japan

    Man you're in for SUCH an amazing experience...guyy wrote a nice list and there's not much I have to add off the top of my head for Tokyo, but just to get a feel for it, while I was cruising around Takayama, a small city most don't know exists, I spotted this shop:

    https://www.google.si/maps/@36.14315...7i16384!8i8192

    And this small shop had an entire collection of ALL Pilot and Platinum nibs, including nibs I've never seen or heard of; such as Pilot medium soft, soft, FA, etc. Basically a tester of 18 or so nibs. I spent quite a while there. Tokyo is of course on a whole different level, where Itoya Ginza is a 6 floors tower of a stationery shop. I also remember buying a few fountain pens in Kyoto and they simply had a nibmeister there, in the shop, who could modify your nib as per your liking, for free, after purchasing a pen.

    Staff is really, really nice and super helpful. When I returned home I still remember how shocked I was when I went to my hometowns local store for the first time in several weeks, accustomed to Japanese friendliness now, and as I entered nobody said hello to me - or goodbye upon leaving, not even a "what do you want?". I just went to the register, asked for a pack of cigarettes and paid for them and I didn't exchange a single word with the employee; she treated me as if I didn't exist and she certainly didn't care if I was there or not. And that's when it hit me for the first time "yup, my trip is truly finished, and I'm back home".

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    Default Re: Pen Shopping in Japan

    This is excellent, sworist, very helpful--thank you!

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    Default Re: Pen Shopping in Japan

    That's wonderful to hear, adhoc--thanks very much.

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